Quaker/Monk Parakeets Have Lived Wild and Free
For More Than 30 Years
This website began as a way to communicate with CT Quaker supporters
November of 2005 when United Illuminating began a project to eradicate the
Quaker parrots/Monk Parakeets in their service area. That service area includes
West Haven, Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport. In early November, UI workers
were given training on the capture and kill method of eradicating the Quaker
population. During the week of November 14, 2005, a biologist from the National
Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) Gainesville, FL, field station collaborated with
personnel from the Massachusetts/Connecticut/Rhode Island Wildlife Services
office and Pandion, a Gainesville consulting firm, to conduct training in monk
parakeet trapping for employees of a Connecticut electric utility company. Based
on what they considered a successful parakeet management program developed by
Pandion and NWRC in Florida, over 30 linemen and supervisors received
instruction in monk parakeet biology, trapping methodology, handling,
and euthanasia, as well as information regarding pertinent regulations,
public relations, and safety issues. Parakeets collected as a result of
the trapping program will be sent to the Gainesville field station for
The capture began on November 17, 2005. In the dark of the night long after
the birds had gone to roost and were peacefully sleeping, their self made
sanctuary was invaded. UI workers armed with a long pole and a very long net
descended on the first nest.
Using a truck equipped with a hydraulic bucket lift to raise personnel to the
appropriate height, a net is quickly thrown over the nest entrance. There is a
translucent window at the top of the net to let some light enter and the parrots
to think they can escape. Instead of finding an escape the parrots hit the
window and drop into the net. A zippered bottom opening in the net allows the
captured birds to be easily removed. To decrease the number of parrots that may
escape capture, Florida Power & Light (FP&L) developed the practice of shining
of a strong beam of light into the nest. entrance. This temporarily blinds the
birds to the activity below the nest. Since the birds are blinded they are not
as likely to fly out of the nest while the bucket is put into position and the
nets are placed over the over the nests.
The captured parrots are turned over to the USDA. Once in the hands of the
USDA the parrots are euthanized using carbon dioxide. Although they claim to be
humanely euthanizing the birds the truth is they are thrown into a sealed metal
box and carbon dioxide is pumped into the box. A small number of birds were
saved from euthanization and instead shipped out of CT to be used for
Rather than removing the nests at the time of capture, UI left them up. They
waited a week or so hoping for any escapees to return to the nest. The nest was
then assaulted once again. Nests were removed in late December and January
causing the birds to endure the extreme temperatures without shelter.
United Illuminating removed 103 nests in the Bridgeport and New Haven
areas. UI turned over 179 parakeets to the U-S Department of Agriculture, which
euthanized the birds using carbon dioxide. United Illuminating's eradication
project cost $150,000. That is a cost of $698.32 per bird killed.
Controversy over the extermination reached newspapers nationwide, and as far
as London, England.
Friends of Animals filed a complaint against United Illuminating Co. on
behalf of Connecticut’s monk parakeets. In December the company assured the
Court it would stop netting the birds and turning them over to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, which has been asphyxiating them in carbon dioxide
chambers. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in the Spring of 2008.
Concern for the birds also came from Connecticut legislators, including U.S.
Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Christopher Shays, and state Rep. Richard Roy. In
February 2006, Rep. Richard Roy, co-chairman of the Environment Committee said
he will promote a bill that would take monk parakeets off the state’s invasive
species list, in an effort to protect them from further eradication efforts.
Rep. Richard F. Roy, D-Milford, said protecting the gregarious birds will be a
priority in the new legislative session, following the United Illuminating Co.’s
November and December destruction of parrot nests on more than 100 utility
poles.” Essentially I want to protect them from extermination,” Roy said in an
interview. “I think there area lot of people who enjoy the birds, as well as
those who don’t care.”
Roy sponsored File No. 404, (Substitute House Bill No. 5804) An ACT
Concerning Monk Parakeets and Hearings Prior to The Euthanization of Dogs. On
March 20, 2006, the Legislature's Environment Committee approved the bill that
would protect Connecticut's monk parakeets from capture and eradication. The
bill was sent to the Judiciary Committee on April 11. Unfortunately the Bill was
not called for a vote before the end of the Legislative session. Although Roy
had said he would sponsor the bill again in the next session, he did not. There
is currently no legislation pending.
Locally a group of parrot supporters staged protests and with the help and
direction of Marc Johnson, of Foster Parrots of MA built alternative platforms
in an effort to provide protection to the birds.
After the parakeet nests were destroyed in Dec. of 2005, Marc Johnson of
Foster Parrots of MA and myself, as well as local volunteers erected alternative
nesting platforms in CT. The design was developed by Johnson. Fourteen platforms
were put up between 50 and 150 feet from existing nests or where nests had been
removed by UI. Two of those platforms were adopted by survivors from the
eradication program. The first nest adopted was 50 feet from the original nest.
This platform was adopted in less than one month’s time by a pair. The pair
built the nest up in width and height. This pair raised two young that fledged
from the platform in June 2006 and in November of 2006 four parakeets were
attending this nest. The other nest was adopted by a pair five months later.
This pair also succeeded in raising two young. Five additional birds joined this
nest site after the nest removals of October 2006. The adoption rate was low but
there was adoption of the nests and breeding. I believe the adoption rte could
be increased with cooperation from the utility company.
Please explore the rest of this site, you will find photos of the Quakers,
photos of the capture and killing, building of the platforms and information
regarding wild Quakers in other states
Email Donna to be kept
informed as to what's going on in the effort or wish to help in the
effort, form a neighborhood watch or perhaps volunteer your property as
a sanctuary for these innocent victims. We are in need of property
owners in the area where the birds nest, to allow alternative nest
platforms to be erected on their property.